the issue of color

we finished the backsplash last night (EASY project!) and our kitchen transformation is almost complete.

someone who knows their culinary shizz cooks in the kitchen....is what they'll say. they'll be wrong, but they'll still say it.

the last [big] puzzle piece is new wall color. i mentioned before that we want a nice, light cool gray.

our kitchen gets almost no natural light due to only having one small window (and two glass-paned doors that dont do much), and that one is located in a place facing our back yard that is pretty shady anyway. so i need the decor in the room to pull itself up by the bootstraps and make its own light. thus, light gray.

plus after so much blue and cherry, i think this neutral palate will feel like a nice shower at the end of a day of salty, saturated swampassity.

here's the dilemma: the tones of cabinet paint we had to choose from on the rustoleum kit were a cream white and frost white. one with pinkish hues and one with blue hues. in the name of ridding the space of all warm, confining colors, i went with frost.

however, the "snow white" tile which was the brightest shade offered for our budget has decidedly warm tones. dammitz!

sometimes this disparity is practically imperceptible. and then other times it is screamingly awful. a lot depends on my mental health level at the time and the lighting conditions.

i looked at a bunch of white cab/white backsplash examples on pinterest and it turns out many of them had not-wuite-identical shades of white and i never would have noticed if i wasnt specifically inspecting that factor. so i am hoping it's just as case of being so close to the project that i notice every potential flaw.

regardless, since, as a reader pointed out on facebook (hi tamara!), gray is the biggest schizo of all the colors and can come across with red, blue, purple, or even green feelings, depending on the shade, there are LOTS of varieties to choose from.

and since we are dealing with the issue of incompatible undertones with our whites, i want to make sure the gray is a neutral mediator and not taking sides in the war of cool vs. warm.

so i need your voice. i need you to rock the vote in the comments section or if youre shy over on the poll yonder right above our family picture towards the top

the question is: not which shade is your favorite, but what shade of gray do you think best marries the two different white surfaces that are in our kitchen, while also being its own voice?

one color just had a boring number so i named it myself. you'll never guess which one.

oh, and i made a typo in my labeling; it's gull wing, not gull wind. i dont want bird fart colors on my walls, thanks.

again, what shade of gray do you think best marries the two different white surfaces that are in our kitchen...minimizing their differences and uniting the two of them?

if you are vehemently opposed to gray marriage, then you can abstain.

oh man, best. pun. ever. high fiving a million angels.


getting fixed

my friend raechel knows things. she knows how to dress, how to cook, how to design, how to write, how to sew, how to blog and how to love. she is awesome and having her in my life has inspired SO many great new things. that is the mushy truth.

so when she tweeted about trying something called "stitch fix." i was intrigued.

i looked into it and got the skinny: it's a personal styling/shopping website. you tell them your size/style/budget and their stylists send you a "fix" of 5 items (clothes & accessories) they think will work well for you. you get to try everything on in the comfort of your own home, with the benefit of the rest of your wardrobe; anything you dont like, you send back in the free prepaid envelope, anything you like, you keep and are pay for.

you pay $20 every time you have them send you a new fix. they call this a styling credit, but it goes towards anything you choose to keep.

how do they know what to send?

well, like i said, when you sign up you answer a ton of questions, rate example outfits, indicate where you want your wardrobe to grow (are you looking for dresses or tops?) and what risks youre willing to take (edgy, boho, preppy). you also get a blank field at the end to tell them anything else they want to know.

for my first fix i asked for sleeveless tops for hot GA summer and a nice pair of neutral bottoms (since i have a lot of bright shorts already).

it was really thrilling and terrifying for this control freak to let go and let a total stranger pick out clothes for me. but there was no risk (beyond the $20 which i figured was worth it for the experience) and if pinterest has taught me anything, it is that some folks were born to style outfits for others.

a few days later this showed up on my doorstep:

their packaging, communication and design is AWESOME. it felt like such a high-end experience to be a part of. like designers sending famous actresses their wares in hopes of being worn in the red carpet.

do you see the insert in there? another fun incentive is that if you keep all 5 items in your fix, you get 25% off all of them plus the $20 that already went towards your purchase.

i lingered for so long with everything mysteriously wrapped up like this. what wonders lay inside?? such anticipation!

and then i pulled out the gang:

one necklace

one pair of shorts
3 tops
a happy envelope

my very first thoughts were, "oooooooooh, i dont know about these." but then i realized...thats the point! letting someone with no emotional attachments try to figure out flattering new options for me. i am willing to broaden my horizons, so i was excited to try these things that might not have spoken to me from the rack if i was shopping for myself.

here's what was in my happy envelope: super clear instructions for what was next, a friendly free gift of a little pouch of post its and my invoice with the pricing and origin of each item listed.

now here's the thing. i LOVE authenticity. i love being raw and transparent and letting you guys see the good, the bad and the ugly from me. i fully intended to post pictures of me in the clothes (like raechel did) no matter how hilarious or hideous they were.

i had to renege on this promise when i tried some of this stuff on. you guys, i am just not going down a road that leads to self-hate and lots of this stuff was so unflattering on me (not through my body's fault or the clothes' fault...just not a good match) that to put the pictures up on the internet would not have been good for my heart. thats my insecurity issue and until jesus works it out in me, i am not going to do things that lead to me believing lies about myself. amen? amen.


i LOOOOOOVE that each item comes with the clear price and info on a little tag AND a color photo of outfit ideas for how to integrate the piece into your existing wardrobe.

ok i selected the CHEAPEST option for all of my fixes. $55 isnt out of the realm of sanity for me, but it would be one of the most expensive items in my closet...true story.

so with that in mind, i would have to love it, and i just didnt. the print was a little too drab and muted for me and the double straps would almost necessitate a strapless bra (aka hell). and the final kicker was that i seemed to be too tall for this shirt, since the pictures sowed it hitting much lower on the hip than it did for me. it was more of a crop.

i thought this one was a piece of mail-ordered comedy. $70 for a grey cottom raceback tank with some neon accents. i happened to be wearing a $4 grey racerback tank from american eagle when i got this, and it was 50X more flattering on me. this one was reeeeally short on me.

love the color combo, hated the price and fit.

this one was my favorite. i was all about the bold colors and stripes and the fun pocket detail on the breast. but yall...it is transparent!!! big mommy dont play dat.

i am a mom of 2, almost 30 and married to a minister. also i live in the deep south. i cannot be walking around in this. i think the world would pay me $80 to send this back. if only it was been opaque and $40 cheaper!!!

last up: the shorts. i was so excited to get these on. but alas, size fail. i couldnt even get them over my hips to even look at them. i wear a size 10 in pants (sit see, i'm transparent with yall a little bit still) from almost all stores and these were a large so it should have worked, but maybe boutique L is smaller than chain store large. bummer and a kick in the confidence gonads.

my last hope, and the cheapest item in the fix was this necklace. at first i was scared because i dont own anything like this. but you know what, thats the point!

and while $30 is a lot for a necklace where i come from (i come from my own wallet, btw) i already had $20 invested in this experience that i was NOT getting back.

unfortunately the necklace was the only item that didnt come with styling suggestions and i was kind of at a loss of how to pair this looooong necklace with a big statement pendant with anything i owned.

it took a few tries but this is what i ended up wearing to work:

did i get it totally wrong? is this like a "only wear when youre all fancied up in all black and hitting the bars" kind of necklace?

i dont know, but i dont really care. this this made me feel stylish and fancy all day and it worked for me.

PLUS, due to its appearance, it was like a magical little chunk of meteor nestled in my bosom. it felt nice to pretend like my rack was powerful enough to pull celestial bodies from their orbits and into the gravitational well of m'girls.

so i kept one thing. that's the bad(ish) news.

but the good news is that i really did enjoy the process and i learned a ton from this first fix and think this is a great service and business that is really going to do well.

so when i went to my account to let them know what i was keeping and what i was sending back, i was able to rate each item based on price/fit/style/cut and leave comments about each. the interface for doing this is VERY well laid out and easy to use.

and then i also went back into my profile and updated it to mention a few more overall notes that my stylist (fancy!) should know about me: that i carry my weight in my hips and would like to minimize those, that i am super pale and that sheer/transparent is not really an option.

the overwhelming thing i have heard about stitchfix is that they really do LISTEN to what you say. i asked for neutral bottoms and cool, breezy tops; i got exacgtly those things (some a little bit breezier than others thanksyouverymuchtransparency).

a few ideas i had about their model (and they are only in beta and already doing a GREAT job. seriously, too many great things about their system to even name):

-it would be cool if the 25% off discount for keeping all 5 pieces was a graduated one that you worked up to to incentivize keeping even fewer things : like keeping 2 items got you 10% off, 3 items gets 15% and so on. but i have no idea what their profit structure is or anything like that so it may not be feasible.

-what if you could decide how many items in your fix and change the styling fee based on that. like 3 items per fix for a $13 fee, 5 for $20, 8 for $30 or something?

-it seemed like they could have been helped by or might need a picture of me. i was expecting that part to happen on the original questionnaire. like maybe a picture of me in an outfit that makes me feel AMAZING and maybe even a picture of my in a form fitting unitard or something that shows my true shape (with an IRONCLAD privacy agreement!). that way they could see coloring, shape, proportion rather than depending on my words alone to describe me adequately.

-their lowest price point (which i had signed up for) is still pretty pricey. i dont know where all these chicks are who spend $80 on a shirt and call it their "cheapest," but i dont know many of them. i feel like this system could work great even using just old navy or target clothes. i know one of the points is probably getting more boutique or small-label designers some exposure, but i felt like if i could afford some of that stuff, i could just get a traditional personal shopper at bloomingdale's to do it for me too. i hate feeling like a cheapskate, but we are on a tight budget and i still would like for this service to work for me so i can be a cool snazzy lady too.

did i have a little nagging panicky doubt that maybe this was a frivolous waste and that i'd be better off just going shopping and being my own stylist? yes. a few times when things were looking rough on me and i was starting to take it personally. but i have decided to give it at least 2 more fixes and give it a real chance. (if it doesnt work out after that, rae-rae can always just be my stylist. i shall pay her in snuggle).

it's not a subscription, rather it's on demand, so i can "order a fix" any time i want and they will pack one up for me and send it along (though you have the option of setting your account to auto-send one every month). so the next time i get an etsy order, that is where the money is going, because i want to branch out and be surprised by life and try new things.

my friend (hi katie!) even had a great point, that the $20 could be justified as a date night activity. what husband wouldnt be into the idea of seeing his wife in something way edgier or fancier than she normally wears? i think there is definitely enough potential to be had in this to make the investment on the front end worth the risk.

a year ago the thought of wearing skinny jeans or t-strap sandals would have had me in a cold sweat (and not just because my thighs were hot from the clingy denim and my feet cold in the sandals), but now i have 9 of those very items in my closet and they are some of my favorite pieces that make me feel awesome about myself.

have you tried stitch fix? have you had success? smashing failure leading to downward shame-spirals? is this the first you've heard of it and want to know more (check it out here)?

major brava to the minds that thought of this business, i hope they keep on keeping on, because even though i was 1 for 5 on my first fix, i really did enjoy it all.


weird jollies

let's talk about weird things that make us happy.

when i was in high school, i would sometimes take a little square of aluminum foil to class in my backpack. when i'd get bored, i would take it out, crumple it up into a ball and then spend several enjoyable minutes smoothing it back out to flat perfection (which was ironically my middle school nickname) with my fingernail or other implements. insta-stress relief.

another one that i love is pulling off the protective plastic film that comes on new things: screens, digital clocks, appliances, whatever. bonus points if you never realized you even had a protective factory film on there and then i come along like 3 months later, spot it, and whoosh it off--leaving a pristine surface beneath.

egg shells. whenever i cook eggs, i take the empty broken shells and wrap them up in some paper towels and then crunch the mess out of them. the sound and the tactile sensation of this is SO PLEASING.

i found a new one a few days ago: efficient lint removal.

my most favorite new shirt, an ombre tiered ruffle tank (from my all-grown-up makeover post) was pilling like crazy. it was generating so many pills that pfiezer was getting nervous about their market share (oh, man. i really just said that).

so many ruined tiers...so many salty tears.

at first, i thought it was because i usually wear a long necklace with this top and maybe the links were snagging it. but even after i reaccessorized in the name of blousal longevity (i'm such a martry, i know) the pilling persisted.

in the name of being a grown up and trying to take care of my belongings, i purchased a lint shaver thing from amazon for $7. i had very little faith since i remembered my mom having one of these when i was little and it never worked (though to be fair, i think i was using it to try to shave my stuffed animals).

it arrived and i laid out the patient on the operating floor. the prognosis was grim: it looked like a thrift store cast off, all fuzzy and sad.

i cranked the little fella up and ran it over the surface of my first tier.

i mean it was a jesus-meets-leper kind of transformation. complete restoration and healing!

the process of slowly canvassing the entire shirt surface and leaving behind a snail-trail of perfection was pure ecstasy.

my shirt was brand new and all the evil linty minions were banished!

of course i had to pull them out and see just how many stowaways had been piggybacking around with me on this ONE SHIRT

i went on a one-woman blitzkrieg against all the pills in our house. the satisfaction i felt from this task can only be described as "borderline OCD."

so spill it: what are the weirdest, most random things that de-stress or strangely please you? let not make this something freaky-naughty, people; i am talking about G-rated random as hell things. plushies can just sit this one out, because that's not what we are looking for. (again, thank you 30 rock for that vocab nugget...never thought i would need to use it in a sentence).


the DIY that almost ended me

i've read the blog posts and the tutorials. i believed the warnings that painting cabinets is HAAAAAARD.

but i am also blursed (blessed/cursed) with delusions of grander capabilities than i actually possess, so i am not appropriately scared of projects that i definitely should be. i just jump right in the deep end and only survive because there is no other alternative but to keep swimming until i am out.

after 5.5 years living among the faux cherry kitchen cabinets that the house came with when we first bought it-- and that i once actually loved (stupid, stupid girl)-- i recently transitioned to, "okay, i would never pick these on my own, but they really arent that bad."

and then one day last week, i tipped right over the edge into THESE ARE HIDEOUS AND THEY MUST GO NOW! territory.

god bless jesse. i call him up out of nowhere and say, "i have a big project i want to do and you will have to help me majorly and it will take days and days and i want it so bad, so you cant say no."

is raging impulsiveness a sign of a brain tumor? sociopathy? imminent death? no? then okay, it's not at the top of my list of traits to change about myself at the moment. WE PAINT!

and paint we did. we painted, and we deglossed, cleaned, sealed, unscrewed, mounted, cried, sweated, and wallowed.

but we finished. yes we did:

it wasnt the actual difficulty of this thing that was a kick in the soft stuff...it was the all-encompassing nature of it.

you will never realize how much surface area your cabinet doors comprise until you take them off and have to find a space to lay them out in. you never realize how much you use your countertops until you cant touch them for 48 hours. you never realize that your children are not actually the cuddly fruit of your loins that you always assumed, but are instead invincible destructi-cons with a vendetta of mental anguish to carry out against you until you try something like this.

we have child locks on all of our lower cabinets, so the kids have never really been able to see inside, much less open ALL OF THEM ALL AT ONCE WITH UNRESTRICTED ACCESS. good sweet gracious, all hell broke loose when they realized pandora's box had been opened. with the mess that this kind of undertaking requires anyway--plus two toddlers--we had on our hands a grade A shitstorm unleashing fury on us for 4 full days.

i walked in at one point and layla seemed to be smoking several birthday candles she had unearthed while also wielding a food processor cheese-grating attachment blade at judah as he fended her off with a pyrex shield and brandished an immersion blender back at her. precious moments and willow tree: where are your collectible figurines for these moments?

jesse and i have decided that as mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, so are our kids to any agendas we might have of being productive. they sense this distracted weakness in us and lose their minds like 2 little blood-thirsty life-suckers. whereas if jesse and i are being lards on our laptops in the same room as them, they will happily and quiety play or watch TV for HOURS. but dare we try to go one room over and do something requiring 5 quarks of brainpower, 4 ounces of focus or even 75% of our limbs, they experience tiny brain hurricanes that render any formerly-engaging activity utterly useless and invisible and all they can think about is stopping our progress at any cost.

chaos and stress reign supreme, messes abound and jesse and i creep ever closer to the grave.

am i painting an adequate picture of the FOUR DAY PROCESS for you? if not, tough luck, because big mommy aint repainting anything else for at least a fortnight.

but was it worth it? shockingly: yes.

let's dive in, shall we?

i was settled on the amazingly in depth tutorial from young house love until i realized that, besides being super talented, these people are also insane and may secretly be ninjas or at least contractors. my mind cant function inside of 13-day time lines, removing all belongings from all cabinets and drawers, and sanding every surface twice. then again, they had real oak cabinets so being super by-the-book was more important to them. they are rockstars a million.

so instead i used the before/after transformation and beadboard idea from this blog to guide us. finding this blog gave me several important pieces of info:

1. rustoleum makes a line of "transformations" paint kits designed to give you everything you need to change the color of cabinets, counters or furniture all in one box. they are cheap, come in many colors and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. we ended up getting the cabinet kit for the cabs and the furniture kit we used on our counters (since the counter top one didnt come in a black option for some reason). the cabinet one was $75 and the furniture one we used on the counters was $35. both had 4 steps and coats included: deglossing, painting, decorative coat (optional...we didnt) and protective coat. no sanding required was what sold us...and the price tag.

2. adding beadboard panels to the cabinet fronts. this "one little extra" as i billed it to jesse, ended up adding a whole day and a half to the ordeal because we had to cut them exactly right and that took all of jesse's efforts for one whole night of work and then we caulked like drunk people around the gaps to make it seamless and had to go back and sand the gloops and overflows (so dammit, we had to sand a little bit anyway).

before the storm. i lived here for 5.5 years and this never really bothered me. now i see this picture and have almost a physical aversion to it.

after taking off all of the door fronts and gold hinges. we didnt have any pulls on the cabinets or drawers before bc it never bothered us, and anyway, lipstick on a pig, you know?

as i was removing all the hinges and taking them down, i was so naive and happy as the project got under way. i love my cabinets and saw only the good in them. i would actually sweet talk them, telling them, "you're just tiny little cabins, that's where you got your name. snuggy little homes for all my stuff to cozy up in." by the end of the project, the cabin/cabinette wordplay charm had vanished unless youre thinking of those cabins that horror movies are set in that scare the living crap out of me and i never want to be around. yeah, that's more of what these were like.

preparing to be cleaned and deglossed. i labelled them all (with info of where they belonged) with a post-its before writing a master list of the location and dimensions of each (since the post-its would be removed eventually)

i bought the cheapest knobs from home depot that they had in a shape that i like and then went with my old fave, oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to give them the finish that i actually wanted rather than springing $5 per knob on one that came that color

the existing hinges got a coat of it too.

jesse cut out the beadboard rectangles for the cabinet fronts and the cabinets frames. he also got a terrible haircut somewhere during the week, but we love him still and find his sexiness fully restored by the skillful use of these power tools.

the first beadboard find its new home. this is such a chic two-toned look, maybe we should have stopped there. oh sorry, i thought i lived in opposite land. ZING!

we used just liquid nails to attach the beadboard since its not like they would be getting yanked on. for larger sections that the liquid nails wasnt enough to hold tightly down, we secured with little nail-gun brads

after 1 coat of deglosser and 2 coats of paint. note the dishes in the sink are NOT from cooking since that did not happen at all during this project, but instead are full of things i accidentally touched with the deglosser during that phase. that is serious stuff and i didnt want any of it on things that would eventually touch our food.

seeing my cabinet-contents without their doors was like seeing your teacher in a swimsuit or something. you always knew it went on out of your sight, but it's just slightly wrong or indecent to see it all exposed in the light of day like that.

everybody in their ghost makeup!

the countertop situation deteriorates heading into day 3. clean and clear countertops are my love language. more so, the state of my countertops is often a perfect barometer for the state of my stress level. guess how laid back and fun to be around i was at this point!

late friday night we finished the protective coating and got the hardware installed on all the doors. we were so tired but had to get them hung to see the final product:

so so so pretty, but also utterly spoiled by the off-white countertops.

enter phase two: countertop makeover.

jesse went to bed at about midnight, but i HAD to get going on the counters because the white on offwhite contrast was ruining my before/after moment.

i cleaned the living snot out of the counters, and it was actually a little sad to rub the deglosser all over them and prep to paint them since they now looked better than ever. kind of like a dog that bites someone and has to be put down and acts so sweet in that sad back room at the vet and makes you think, "oh let's not go through with it, he will be good! look how gentle and docile". your heart breaks, but you know this creature is a danger to all future people who come into contact with it. so it was with my counters.

here was my real "old yeller" moment of truth:

nothing like rolling out black paint onto the broad white expanse of your counter to make your ovaries clench up a little bit.

after dealing with the front and backs, vertical-hanging, and decorative grooves of the cabinets, painting flat, horizontal, waist-high countertop was the most pleasing experience EVER. i seriously enjoyed all of the coats as my roller glided across the conveniently placed and perfectly-textured-for-paint surface.

after letting it dry overnight and then putting on the topcoat and letting THAT dry for another 24 hours (not being able to use your countertops at all is CHALLENGING. the top of our trashcan became our only oasis during this time) i finally had my AFTER[glow] moment:

breathe it in...but not too deeply, the topcoat hasnt fully cured yet.


rustoleum cabinet transformations kit (frost)-$75
17 knobs and 5 handles hardware- $50
two 4'x8' sheets of mdf beadboard-$40 (lots leftover for a future bathroom project)
furniture transformations kit (used for counters) in black: $35
oil-rubbed bronze spray paint-$7
liquid nails and caulk tubes-$5

we already had and needed:
-saw, caulk gun, nailer, sander
-paint rollers, tape, trays & NICE brushes (crucial)

so $212 for what amounts to brand new cabinets and countertops (in my mind at least) is a STEAL. we could never had afforded actual replacements or even paying someone else for this labor (in case, you know, my WORST ENEMY was looking for some work, i might have wished this upon him).

of course, i am your textbook "if you give a mouse a cookie" kind of girl (aside: wait, do you have a cookie right now? can I have it?), so now we are planning new wall paint, new barstool tops, moulding, a decor switcheroo and a tile backsplash to complete the ugly ducking metamorphosis.

the paint color and decor were fine before when this was a land of cherry and cream, but just like tom brady traded up to giselle when he became an NFL star, these counters and cabs deserve something of a va-jay-jay upgrade of their own now that they are classy fellas (thank you liz lemon for that).

please make a big deal out of this transformation. if it's not that great, go ahead and lie to me. i am in a fragile zone of post-stress storm tenderness and can only bear to hear good things about this epic effort.


i love it when you call me big mommy

did you wonder why i chose to call my beach bag the "big mommy bag?" i mean, uh-doy, it's a huge bag that is perfect for moms who have to carry tons of stuff for their families, but outside of being descriptive, couldn't i have picked a more, um, flattering, name?

allow me to tell you the tale of the genesis of big mommy.

ever since judah was old enough to be chased, he has LOVED it. and because i was pregnant during the emergence of this love, jesse became the main chaser.

jesse has a standard "daddy playtime" voice. it is the exact same one that his dad used on him and continues to use on his grandkids. it's kind of a half-shout/growl. it's adorable and weird all at once. funny dukes men.

so when jesse would come after judah he would say, "i'm coming to get you," in this weird monster voice.

somehow, somewhere along the way as judah was learning to speak english, he translated this into toddler speak and whenever a chase ensued, he would say, "big daddy comin'!" it was hilarious and awesome because jesse is big daddy. he is the big giant strong hero of judah's life AND his weird voice makes him even more giant-seeming. judah said it with the perfect inflection that said: watch out, here he comes and he might just gobble you up.

we all fully embraced "big daddy comin'!" and said it often.

then one night when judah was maybe 2.75 years old he was in the tub. i went to get in with him, as i often do with one or both of the kids.

as i tossed my clothes into the laundry basket and thought for the millionth time, "i am so glad that my kids have no perception of body image whatsoever and are not at the age where they ask awkward questions about parts or shapes or sizes of me and jesse when they see us al fresco like this. it's such a relief to not feel self-conscious around them.

and then as i stepped into the tub, judah said it. with that exact same, watch out everybody, there-she-blows kind of inflection: "big mommy comin'!"

it was so terrible and wonderful all at once. it had NONE of the charm of the big daddy version and so many hilarious and soul-crushing implications in its "mommy" form. he continues to say this for me, but ONLY seems to use it when i am getting into the tub or shower. awesome.

but, as i often do, i decided to really lean into it and embrace it. referring to myself as "big mommy" is now a wonderful comic method of being a creepy full-figured lady. throwing down a good, "big mommy likes!" on an unsuspecting friend is gold.

and in that same tradition i went ahead and owned the big mommy title and emblazoned it as the name of my newest craft.

step lightly folks, biiiiiig mommy comin'!


a side of pin

here are a bunch of pins from my "a side of yum" board that i have tried lately and how they've turned out:

1. super easy crusty bread from scratch. i am a horrible baker. i suck at making anything that you would find in a bakery. i think the flour can sense my innate attention distraction to detail and instinctively rebels under my hands.

this tale is filed under "tragedies" because carbs are my love language. the whiter and nutritionally emptier the better.

so when my mom scored an awesome deal for me on a le creuset mack daddy dutch over at an outlet in arizona (and made my dad use it as his carryon on the way back, bless him), i was ready to try this pin, though massively skeptical that this was anything other than delusions of grandeur that would end with tears and a smoke alarm attack--as per usual.

the good news was that i had all the ingredients on hand and it was super easy to mix. then i let it sit and rise (contradiction?) for the recommended 18 hours.

after i baked this creation i pulled out....a piping hot wheat discus. WTF? except not, because this is normal.

i allowed myself a little, "STUPID EFFING PINTEREST WHY DO YOU FILL MY HEAD WITH LIES!!!!," and then i realized that i had used 4 year old yeast (because i learned my last baking lesson in 2008) and the helpful little bacteria had gone on to glory in my cupboard and were as such unavailable to be called into active duty like i needed them. so that's more of a disqualification than a FAIL.

i sprung $1.75 on a fresh pack the next time i was at the store and gave it ONE LAST CHANCE:

SUCCESS! will be making this on the regular with all the fun flavors she suggests (lemon gruyere! orange cranberry!)

2. mediterranean veggie stacks: these were not the quickest to put together and i felt like the bangin' presentation was wasted on just a weeknight meal for me and jesse, but they were really delicious (and i hate most forms of tomatoes). these would be perfect to jazz up a pasta dinner with friends.

save yourself some heartache and get full-fat feta. its worth it.

on the side of an open faced bacon, egg, avocado and arugula sammie with basil mayo....EPIC

3. broiled parmesan chipotle lime avocados: we had these on the side of a bodacious fathers day meal. i used asiago cheese instead of parm and added too much lime juice in the indention so my cheese there was less melty goodness all over and tended towards "floating curd" in the middle. but i will SO be making these again b/c they really were so so easy and delicious on the perimeter where i didnt over-juice.

4. soynapple marinade: not technically a side since this is a marinade for, but marinades go on the SIDES of meat and this one is off the charts good. let it marinate for over 24 hours and you are in for a treat (i think i accidentally left mine in for over 48 and it was insane-pants flavorful and tender). we used flap steak which sounds like the most disgusting thing ever but it was actually cheaper and tastier than its expensive, yet more appetizingly named cousins flank and skirt steak.

this meal was all the got me through one night last week when i was alone with the kids for 6 days straight while jesse was out of town. i have emotional feelings toward it now. also: lemon la croix is your next obsession. also, my veggies were on a separate plate that is not pictured and is also fictional.

yall found any morsels of goodness that deserve to ride shotgun at my next meal?